Internet Reveals Chinese Gymnast's True Age

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There's been some controversy surrounding Chinese gymnast, He Kexin (何可欣), who won the individual gold medal in parallel bars and came in second in all-around gynmastics.

Olympics rules state that you must be 16 years old to compete. This Chinese girl looks much younger than she claims (to be born on Jan 1 1992 - the earliest possible date to be eligible to compete).

A little sleuthing online by various net-detectives has uncovered evidence to the contrary.

Searching for spreadsheets with the competitor's name and birthdates on Google revealed some interesting results, but someone had removed the content. However additional searching revealed documents from the Chinese government with different birth dates for the competitor!

Documents show her true age to be 14.

What began as whispers among the media and gymnastics insiders weeks ago about the ages of three of China's female Olympic gymnasts -- Jiang Yuyuan, Yang Yilin and He Kexin -- has grown into ear-shattering, head-hurting shouts. Despite assurances by Chinese officials that all three are 16, the minimum age of eligibility for Olympic competition, newly discovered documents and records prove otherwise.

The New York Times first looked into the age of China's gymnasts with a story on July 27 that focused primarily on He Kexin, whose birthdate on numerous online records was listed as January 1, 1994, making her 14 when the Games began and ineligible to compete.

When the world was officially introduced to He Kexin this week, even those unwise to the ways of competitive gymnastics could tell that with He, something was not right. At 4-foot 8-inches tall and weighing 72 pounds, the Beijing native appears significantly younger than most of her Chinese teammates much less her American and European counterparts.

The world's foremost expert on female gymnastics Bela Karolyi has routinely referred to the 2008 Chinese team as "half people" and in his contributions to NBC as a commentator during the Games he has railed against the Chinese for engaging in age falsification. After China outscored the U.S. in the qualification round, Karolyi had this to say about the Chinese gymnastics officials:

"These people think we are stupid...We are in the business of gymnastics. We know what a kid of 14 or 15 or 16 looks like. What kind of slap in the face is this? They are 12, 14 years old and they get lined up and the government backs them and the federation runs away. There is an age limit and it can't be controlled."

Chinese Olympic officials have forcefully defended He's eligibility, maintaining that when asked, they submitted proper passport documentation to the IOC. He's passport says her date of birth is January 1, 1992, making her 16 and old enough to compete. However, as Karoyli told the AP, "passports mean nothing."





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